Tank Requirements

Tetra Fish Tank Requirements

If you’re considering setting up a tetra fish tank, you’re in luck!

These charming little fish make excellent beginner pets and are relatively easy to care for.

However, like every living thing, they need some love and care.

So, there are a few things you should know before getting a tetra fish tank.

In this article, we will go through the basic things you need to know about tetra fish tank requirements and how to keep them healthy and happy.

So, let’s start with the most important thing, the water parameters.

Water Parameters

The most important aspect of providing any fish with the water temperature it likes is to recreate its natural environment.

As a result, in order to complete this step, we must first understand how tetra fish survive in the wild.

Tetras are a type of tropical fish that originate in the Amazon basin in Peru, Colombia, and Brazil’s northwestern state. 

In their natural habitat, they dwell in brownish blackwater streams where the water is typically brown.

This brown tint is due to plant life and decaying organic plant material.

However, the water isn’t always dark. It can even appear transparent despite the existence of the tannins.

In general, the ideal water temperature for tetras in the wild is generally 68°F to 82°F (20°C to 28°C), with a pH level of 4 to 7.5.

What Are the Ideal Water Parameters for Tetras in an Aquarium?

After you understand your fish’s wildlife, you still need to know what are the ideal water parameters to provide in your tank.

Tetra fish are very sensitive fish that need to be kept in well-established tanks with clean, clear water.

If you provide your fish with these conditions, they will be happy and healthy and live a long wholesome life.

On the other hand, if you decide not to supply your fish with what they deserve, they will develop a variety of health problems and may even die!

The following are the acceptable water parameters for your favorite tetra fish.

1. Water Temperature

Tetras require regular water temperature in order for their metabolic rate to remain constant.

For this reason, you need to provide them with a stable temperature between 75°F to 80°F (23°C to 27°C).

You can invest in a heater if you live in a colder climate or you can even just use a thermometer to monitor the tank’s temperature.

Also, if you have a room that has a constant temperature of around this range, you can place your fish tank in there.

When the weather drops below 70 degrees Fahrenheit, fish become unhappy and anxious, and their immune systems can be weakened in more dangerous situations.

So, providing tetras with the ideal water parameters is not ever a walk in the park.

2. pH Level

As we mentioned before, all we need to do is to replicate our fish’s natural environment.

Tetras live in soft and acidic waters, for this reason, the ideal pH level is between 6 to 7 in captivity.

However, if you’re thinking of obtaining a new generation of this lovely fish and breeding it, the pH level should not exceed 6.5 without being excessively hard.

3. Ammonia

Ammonia in the tank water needs to be 0 ppm since a high level of ammonia can make the tank water toxic for tetras.

You may know that keeping the ammonia level at 0 ppm is important, but have you ever asked yourself why?

Well, ammonia prevents your fish from breathing efficiently, also in some dangerous cases, it can burn your tetra’s gills!

As a result, it’s critical to maintain the tank water’s ammonia levels at zero in order to ensure the tetras’ safety.

4. Nitrites

Like ammonia, nitrites are also toxic to tetras and, as with ammonia, a high level of nitrites in the tank water can cause stress and health issues.

It’s also possible that prolonged exposure to excessive nitrates in the water might result in tetra death.

5. Nitrates

Unlike ammonia and nitrite, a small amount of nitrate in the tank water is acceptable.

The nitrate level, on the other hand, should not exceed 20 ppm.

Tetras’ health can be adversely affected if the water level rises above the desired level.

6. Salinity

Tetras are freshwater fish and they cannot survive in a saltwater tank.

However, they can tolerate moderate salinity levels.

But, when too much salt is added to the tank water, tetras can become sick and stressed out.

And if the salinity of the aquarium rises above a particular threshold, it can even cause tetras to die prematurely.

So, it’s very important to keep an eye on your tank salinity.

7. Water Hardness

Determining the correct water hardness is crucial for tetra health.

Even though neon tetras like soft water, they may adapt to medium-hard water too, this happens only if the tank has high-grade water.

What exactly is the ideal water hardness for tetras?

There are two parts used to measure water hardness:

  • General hardness (GH)
  • Carbonate hardness (dKH).

The ideal water hardness for tetras is between 2 and 10 dGH, and 1 to 2 dKH.

8. Alkalinity

The alkalinity of water is the degree to which it can buffer pH and guarantee long-term stability.

It aids in the prevention of any significant pH change that might be harmful to the fish’s health.

A tetra tank requires 1to 2 dKH (17.8 to 35.5 ppm).

Tank Setup

1. Tank size

The suitability of a tetra tank isn’t just determined by how much room one fish has to swim.

Sure, you can keep your fish alive in a rather modest tank (if it’s the right pH, temperature, and other water treatment and environmental conditions are met).

However, this isn’t always ideal for any fish and the small size of your tetras isn’t an exception.

When it comes to caring for tetras, a few things must be considered.

First, although they are tiny (only reaching about 1.2 inches in adulthood), they are a shoaling species.

This implies that you’ll need a lot of additional tetras in your tank since they enjoy swimming in groups.

Obviously, this means you’ll want a larger tank to accommodate them.

Second, because shoaling species, such as tetras like to move around a lot on different levels of the tank, a bigger tank is preferred for that reason as well.

This is due to the fact that shoaling species, such as tetras prefer to move around a lot on many levels of the tank.

So, to summarize, the short answer is that it depends. 

It depends on how many tetras you have and whether there are other fish in your tank, as well as your budget.

However, in general, the greatest investment for tetra is to maintain a group of 6 or 7 fish in a 10-gallon tank.

2. Aquarium Filter

Tetra fish, like other fish or living organisms, prefer to stay in a clean environment.

They are cleaned simultaneously in their natural setting as a result of constant movement and various exogenous elements such as beneficial bacteria, plants, and so on.

Remember when we talked about replicating the fish’s natural habitat? Filtration isn’t an exception.

Although these little fish do not generate much biological waste, they should not be kept in a tiny aquarium with little filtering or no filtration.

Would you prefer a cramped space with no windows or ventilation, or would you choose a room with adequate area and effective ventilation?

Nobody would select the cramped location, right? The fish are also not an exception.

Regardless of their size, all fish, including the Tetra fish, require the same degree of comfort and a suitable living environment in order to flourish in an aquarium.

You may be able to sustain your tetra fish in an unfiltered tank for a short time, but in the long run, a good quality filter is required for your fish’s optimum health.

A decent water filter not only keeps the water clean but also creates mild currents within the tank that enable the fish to swim freely.

What Happens When You Don’t Use a Filtration System?

If you don’t have an aquarium filter, things can get out of hand rather quickly. You’ll have to do a lot of water changes on a regular basis.

It’s possible that your fish won’t survive even if you do everything else right.

Biological waste will build up and cause a nitrate surge, an ammonia spike, and so on, causing your fish to perish in no time.

3. Heater

As we all know tetra fish is a tropical fish.

The temperature of the water in their natural environment remains almost constant throughout the year with a temperature of 75°C to 78°C.

When the temperature drops significantly, they tend to settle onto the bottom of a lake or river and become rather inactive.

If you want to keep your fish healthy and happy, you should be able to replicate these conditions in your aquarium tank.

Anything within these parameters is acceptable for the fish.

If you fall short by a wide margin, however, your fish may become anxious and, in the worst cases, might die.

Therefore, using a heater is very essential.

An Aquarium heater not only maintains a steady temperature in the aquarium but also keeps the tank at a constant temperature.

This constant temperature in the tank promotes healthy fish and enhances their immunity.

Further, during cold climates, water in your tank gets chilly and it is nearly impossible for your fish to survive at these temperatures.

Here comes the heater job since it will keep your fish alive in this harsh winter season.

4. Lighting

Tetras require 12 to 14 hours of illumination each day since this will aid in the maintenance of their circadian rhythm. 

It’s also preferable to set your lights on a timer so that your fish can get into a routine.

Since certain tetra species, such as neon tetra and glowlight tetra, prefer dim lighting, an established tank is best for them.

However, you should identify the light requirements of the tetra species you keep.

A low-watt fluorescent light, between 18 and 40 watts, can be used in a freshwater tank, but if you intend to keep live plants, your fluorescents will need to produce at least 2 to 5 watts per gallon of water in your aquarium.

5. Tank Decorations

The fish Tetra is a very active and inquisitive species.

They enjoy swimming around in their aquariums, exploring every nook and cranny.

For this reason, these species can benefit from a large number of tank decorations.

a. Floating Plants

Tetras like bright light, which floating plants provide. 

Water lettuce, for example, is a good choice for providing a thick mat of plant life in front of your tank while also allowing enough light to reach the roots at the bottom.

b. Bottom Plants

There are many different types of tetras, and their preferences vary.

Bloodfin tetras for example prefer broad-leaved plants, whereas glowlight tetras prefer small-leaved plants.

Both tastes can be satisfied by including a few specific broad-leaf anubias species and a few narrow-leaf anacharis.

c. Hiding Places

While you wouldn’t call someone a tetra because they are terrified, these brightly colored fish aren’t courageous or bold.

They enjoy hiding spots as well as relaxing places.

Plants may provide a few concealment opportunities and also add to the elegance of your tank.

Decorations that provide shade in the form of caverns, caves, and castles will entice your tetras to swim into safe zones for fun as well as avoid what they believe is their impending doom when another fish challenges them.

d. Substrate

A black substrate aids in the darkening of the tank, which is characteristic of the tetra’s natural environment.

It also adds intensity to your aquarium by contrasting well with the green plants and highlighting the brilliant hues of your tetras.

The main disadvantage is that after all of your efforts to clean the tank, it will be filthy again in about a day or two because debris appears more readily in a darker substrate.


Tetras are a type of tiny fish that may be easily bullied or even killed by bigger fish.

As a result, the safest option is to choose fish from a small, peaceful community.

Fish larger than 3-4 inches (7.5-10 cm) are not recommended.

Also, tetras are a tropical species that demand temperatures of 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit.

It’s critical that any tank mate can survive in this temperature range.

Best tank mates for neon tetras include:

  • Barbs
  • Dawes cichlids
  • Small catfish (like cory catfish)
  • Small, peaceful gouramis (like honey gouramis)
  • Other tetra species (like candy cane tetras)

Non-fish tank mates for neon tetras include:

  • Mystery snails
  • Shrimp (like ghost shrimp)
  • Crabs

Last Words

Tetras are usually very easy to care for, and some can even be used for aquarium breeding. 

That being said, it’s important to identify the needs of your specific species and choose appropriate tank requirements and tank mates.

By doing so, you’ll be able to enjoy your tetras’ beauty and companionship for years to come.

We hope you have enjoyed this article as much as we did.

If you still have any questions, please share them with us in the comment section below.